If someone told me a year ago that Hell’s Kitchen was the place to go for amazing meat and fish, well, I might have taken him or her up on it just to prove its veracity but would have been very skeptical until I got there. The thing is, though, that we didn’t know to go to this part of the island until very recently; an aforementioned conversation with an awesome colleague alerted me to Sea Breeze, the amazing fishmonger, and on a walk downtown from that store we noticed Giovanni Esposito & Sons . We filed it under “place to go when we had a serious meat purpose).”
As these things do, a purpose came to life sooner than expected, and we were right to depend on this store to fulfill our needs. Inspired by many things (memories of a trip to Les Halles with two of our best friends, our wedding anniversary, as well as the a challenge in Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog to throw a “luxury dinner party,” well, a menu materialized before our eyes on a Thursday night weeks ago. I was so pleased with myself because we were going to make onion soup Les Halles style, and roast the fuck out of some veal short ribs. It was going to be indulgent and awesome…but I knew that I’d have to call ahead to see if any butcher had it. This was my first mistake, because I tried to rely on a butcher on the Upper West Side…and there was a non-mianstream Jewish holiday that likely closed them for the duration. My email inquiry went unanswered and calls made were shunted to a machine, so by 5PM on Friday I knew I was SOL.
I made a few frantic calls to butchers and gourmet shops, and honestly, the nicest response I received was from the Esposito staff. They said they needed a full day to make this kind of order (totally understandable) so veal short ribs were out of the question, but we wanted to go there to see if our backup meal was available–hanger steak with beef marrow.
Not only did we get the meats we were looking for that weekend, when a dinner party-opportunity sprouted up a few weekends later and Michael had it in his head to give the veal short ribs another try, well, we made the necessary pre-emptive calls–as the butchers needed to call “their veal guy”–and had the order for 4 pounds of short ribs. You know how that ended up (spoiler alert: in the best possible way as we have leftovers), but the glee in our butcher’s eyes in showing us the cut of meat and our shared enthusiasm was even more proof that we had found a great place to get that special cut of meat.
More importantly, though, is that the butchers working here take pride in what they do: you’re going to pay for a slab of meat and for them to trim it for you, but they will do it to you specifications. This is a place you can ask for bones and it requires no extra thought; they simply ask you how you want it cut. Everyone working there is very friendly and professional as this is not like going to a big mega mart and feeling like you’re hassling the “butchers” behind the counters for things that they should have in stock. Granted, it’s easy to have this easy kind of attitude when you’re supplying some amazing restaurants…but still. If you’re excited about a particular cut of meat (especially one that is a special order) then this is your spiritual home, as they happily share your enthusiasm for whatever you may be making.
Bottom line: if we want something specific, Esposito & Sons is your go-to location.